Helmut Zemo

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Name: Helmut J. Zemo
Occupation: Villain, Antagonist, Unlikely Ally, 13th Baron Zemo, Sokovian Colonel
Relationships: Heinrich Zemo (father, dead), Heike Zemo (wife, dead), Carl Zemo (son, dead)
Fandom: Avengers Assemble, The Avengers: United They Stand, MCU: Civil War and Black Panther, Legends, Marvel Comics, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Helmut Zemo Tarot fan art by MaXKennedy on Tumblr
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Helmut Zemo is a Marvel Comics character who first appeared in Captain America #168, a comic book published by Marvel Comics in 1973. He also appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and other Avengers/Captain America cartoon related shows.

Canon Overview

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Helmut Zemo (portrayed by Daniel Brühl) first appears in the movie Captain America: Civil War as the main antagonist. He plans to pit the Avengers against each other as revenge for destroying his country - Sokovia - which led to the death of his wife and son. After successfully carrying out his plan, he attempts to kill himself but is stopped by T'Challa and soon brought to prison.

He makes a return in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series as an unlikely ally for the protagonists (Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes), assisting them with the information they need while pushing his own agenda. At the near end of his arc, he tries to get himself killed by Bucky, but eventually brought back to solitary confinement willingly.

Like the actor who plays him, Zemo excels in different languages. He also has a refined taste for music, being a fan of Marvin Gaye. Two other passions are his car collection, reading, and a life of luxury.[1] But, looking at his military background and the way he approached his covert mission in Civil War, he seems to be able to live modestly when it is necessary.


Many fans had held Zemo in high regard as a villain in MCU, as he had been able to tear up the Avengers apart without any super power; but only since S1 Episode 3 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier did he gain more popularity and solid fanbase, Which led to an increased number of fans producing and consuming transformative works about him. Different pairings emerged throughout the episodes, among them the most common is Helmut Zemo/Bucky Barnes with almost 1500 works on AO3, followed by Helmut Zemo/Sam Wilson/Bucky Barnes. To a lesser extent we have Zemo's pairing with his late wife Heike or EKO Scorpion - a ship between Zemo and his death squad members.

Cell Number 2187

Before Bucky Barnes broke Zemo out of Berlin prison, it had been shown in a CCTV monitor that his cell number was "2187", which is the same number as Princess Leia's cell in the first Star Wars film before her rescue by Luke Skywalker. It is believed not to be a coincidence, since it's a famous and notable reference.[2] Based on this easter egg, some fans humorously titled Zemo as a Disney princess.[3]


In Season 1 Episode 3 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier there is a scene of Zemo dancing. The clip became a meme and broke the internet. The Actor - Daniel Brühl - revealed in one interview that the scene had been an improvisation and he had not expect the shoot to make it to the final cut. He also claimed that there was a longer version of the clip. Fans soon trended #ReleaseTheZemoCut on Twitter, leading Marvel to release on Youtube a video the one-hour-loop version of the longer clip on in response.[4]

I can’t believe there’s more footage of Zemo dancing just lying around on marvel’s studios... RELEASE THE FULL CUT COWARDS @MarvelStudios #ReleaseTheZemoCut[5]

Zemo's Books

A few of fans went to a quite far length to look up the books that had been briefly read by Zemo in the 'Falcon & The Winter Soldier' series. Out of all the books, two were notable, the first being Fortune is a River: Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli's Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History[6] and the second Das Nein in der Liebe: Abgrenzung und Hingabe in der erotischen Beziehung (How to Say No to The One You Love: Demarcation & Devotion in the Erotic Relationship).[7]

Fans found out that the first book wasn't a book written by Machiavelli, instead it told the story of how Da Vinci and Machiavelli fought together on war with Pisa. It also mentioned Da Vinci's other projects, which included a legendary flying machine. Some fans believe that the showrunners used the book content as a parallel to Sam, Bucky, and Zemo dynamic.[6]

When Zemo was shown reading the second book, he was at the end of a section of the book which was titled "Same Sex Fantasies in Heterosexuals" and the beginning of "The Overt No in Love." Fans speculated that it hinted on Zemo's sexuality.[7] Since the book is in German and very obsecure, the fans also speculated that the book was one of the books Daniel had read in preparation for his previous role as a psychiatrist in The Alienist series, and that it might belong to his wife who was a psychologist.[8] Fans who managed to get copies of the the actual book found a page saying that the book was dedicated to someone named Heike which is also the name of Zemo's wife in the comics.[9]

Absence from Thunderbolts?

On 10 September 2022, MCU announced the cast of their upcoming project Thunderbolts without Zemo in the roster.[10] This enraged a lot of fans as Zemo - being the founder and the leader of Thunderbolts in the comics - had always been strongly associated with the group. Previously, there had also been so many rumors asserting that Zemo would be in the roster,[11][12][13] hence many fans were taken aback by the announcement. Zemo's fans who had been waiting for his return in the MCU Thunderbolts project even before it was announced were left disheartened.

[randymonkey on Tumblr]

The Thunderbolts roster leaked online and It was followed by waves of disappointment. No Abomination and on top of that no Baron Zemo.

No Zemo is infuriating. He is a founding member in the comics. That would be like making the first Avengers flick without Ironman or Captain America. That’s a hard nope for me. Hell without him means there are no founding members included. It’s Thunderbolts in name only.[14]

A few time after the announcement, it was rumored by Daniel Richtman on his Patreon that Zemo would still be in the Thunderbolts,[15] followed by the fans (like the Twitter user @MCUMarvels) noticing that Zemo’s name was in the url of the official announcement article even though he wasn't in the article itself.[16] This led the fans to speculate that Zemo had been included in the original draft, but it had been scrapped because Marvel had decided to make Zemo's involvement a secret or because Daniel Brühl hadn't finalized his contract yet. After some time, Marvel removed Zemo's name from the url; however it already fueled back fans' anticipation for Zemo's involvement in the project.

[@johncampea on Twitter]
I don't want to start some wild theory, BUUUTTTT, on the official marvel page where they talk about the Thunderbolts cast announcements at D23, the pre-made URL for the story literally has ZEMO in it. The URL says: articles/movies/d23-2022-thunderbolts-zemo-yelena Is Zemo coming?[17]


Some people seem to confuse MCU Zemo with his comic counterpart, who is a Nazi HYDRA, although MCU Zemo is an anti-supremacy who hates Nazi and HYDRA.[18] Some also seem to confuse MCU Zemo with Zola, the HYDRA scientist who turned Bucky into a Super Soldier,[19] considering the way they think that Zemo had abused Bucky for years,[20] although he had only meet Bucky for the first time in 2016 and had been taken into custody since then. Nevertheless, some fanworks have depicted MCU Zemo as having the same HYDRA family background as his comic counterpart, while still going against the organization.


Zemo's appearance in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series or even Brühl's off-screen performance; led to the creation of tropes, tags, and metas; such as Chin-Stroking Scene. Below is a small list of other tropes which involves the character Helmut Zemo:

At the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, Zemo was taken to be imprisoned on the Raft. This scenario gave birth to two fandom-related tropes:

Zemo's Middle Name

Because canon material never reveals what the "J" in "Helmut J. Zemo" stands for, the topic of Zemo's middle name is quite often discussed among fans and is free to use as a headcanon. ​Fanfics that touch on the topic related to Zemo's middle name include: 18 down, 5 letters. Starts with J. by FuddleWuddle and Putting the "J" in Zemo by PurplexKitty14.


The Fanon of Zemo wearing cologne first started by Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes). On 8 April 2021, during The Falcon and the Winter Soldier promotion, he captioned one of his Instagram posts with #ZemoWearsCologne.[21] He also mentioned in interviews that Zemo wore a lot of cologne[22] and that fans should be most be excited for the cologne that Daniel Brühl (Zemo) had worn in all scenes they had shot.[23] On 16 June 2021, Sebastian celebrated Zemo's birthday, claiming that "his cologne made things a lot better".[24] Many fans have adapted it into fanworks since then.

[@foxglovebaron on Twitter]
Favourite thing to read everything time I read Winterbaron fic, is there is always a mention Bucky smelling Zemo's cologne.[25]

Example Fanworks






Archives, Communities & Resources

Archives & Social Media

Meta & Further Reading


  1. ^ "Baron Zemo • Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki". FANDOM. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  2. ^ Kevin Erdmann. "Zemo's Cell Is A Clever Star Wars Easter Egg". ScreenRant. Archived from the original on 2023-11-12.
  3. ^ dailybruhl. "It's official. Zemo is a Disney Princess". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2023-11-11.
  4. ^ Rodrigo Perez (2021-04-08). "#ReleaseTheZemoCut: Marvel Releases The Entire Baron Zemo Dance Scene From 'Falcon & The Winter Solider' & Makes 1-Hour Clip". The Playlist. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  5. ^ KRIFFINGKENOBI (2021-04-06). ""I can't believe there's more footage of Zemo dancing…". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  6. ^ a b "Fortune is a River". Tumblr. Archived from the original on 2023-11-11.
  7. ^ a b "There's Something So Very Subtextual". Tumblr. Archived from the original on 2023-11-11.
  8. ^ Winterbaron Discord (18+)
  9. ^ "Copy of How to Say No To the One You Love". Tumblr. Archived from the original on 2023-11-11.
  10. ^ Marvel (2022-09-10). "D23 Expo 2022: Marvel Studios' 'Thunderbolts' Casting Announced". marvel.com. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  11. ^ CultureCrave (2021-06-09). ""#Thunderbolts movie is in development". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  12. ^ thunderbnews (2022-07-24). ""Variety has reported that these MCU characters are among the list of potential". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  13. ^ thunderbnews (2022-09-02). "Wyatt Russell's John Walker and Daniel Brühl's Baron Zemo will return..." Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  14. ^ randymonkey (2022-09-13). "[...] The Thunderbolts roster leaked online and It was followed by waves of disappointment..." Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  15. ^ thunderbnews (2022-09-10). "RUMOR: Baron Zemo will still be in the #Thunderbolts". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  16. ^ MCUMarvels (2022-09-11). "Apparently Zemo's name is in the url of the Thunderbolts cast announcement 👀". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  17. ^ John Campea (2022-09-12). "I don't want to start some wild theory, BUUUTTTT, on the official..." Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  18. ^ "Zemo is a Nazi & people reacted to him with "yay give me an hour of dancing Nazi"". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2023-11-12.
  19. ^ "A quick response thing for when people confuse Zemo and Zola". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2023-11-11.
  20. ^ "some of the antis who hate winterbaron seem to be confusing Zemo with Zola". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2023-11-15.
  21. ^ Sebastian Stan (2021-04-08). "Jumping into this weekend like... The @FalconAndWinterSoldier, out every Friday. #ZemoWearsCologne". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  22. ^ Marvel Entertainment (2021-03-18). "Cast & Crew of Marvel Studios' The Falcon and The Winter Soldier!". Youtube. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  23. ^ freeform (2021-03-23). "Freeform "FATWS TO STORIES" • Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan Are Taking Over Our IG Today". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  24. ^ Jamie Jirak (2021-06-16). "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Sebastian Stan Celebrates Daniel Bruhl's Birthday with Suave Zemo Photo". comicbook. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.
  25. ^ foxglovebaron (2021-04-12). ""Favourite thing to read everything t…". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2022-09-20.


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